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Liberal Senator Renews Call for Study into Credit and Debit Card Fees for Canadians

In a speech to the Edmundston Regional Chamber of Commerce today, Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette renewed her call for a Senate investigation into fees and interest rates paid by Canadians for debit and credit card transactions.


“Although we can’t go back, we owe it to ourselves to mitigate the negative effects of excessive fees. When they were introduced, the cards were a commodity—now we use them for almost all our financial transactions,” said Senator Ringuette.


On November 25, 2008, the Senator tabled a motion calling for a detailed study:


That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to examine and report on the credit and debit card systems in Canada and their relative rates and fees, in particular for businesses and consumers.


Work on the file was originally halted when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament, blocking the Senate from proceeding, but the Senator re-introduced her motion on January 27, with the resumption of Parliament.


“Unfortunately, consumers have no recourse because under Canadian law, financial institutions can charge up to 60% in interest,” said Senator Ringuette.


The Senator noted that countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have already made efforts to cap interchange fees for transactions, and suggested that similar action in Canada could potentially represent real savings for businesses and consumers.


“In 2008, had our Canadian businesses benefited from the same interchange fee legislation as their Australian counterparts, they would have saved close to $6.7 billion, sales dollar for sales dollar,” said Senator Ringuette.


“To put the figure in perspective, $6.7 billion is more than what the last budget gave in tax cuts to businesses.”